CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—A new database designed by researchers at the University of North Carolina will reveal what foods people are buying and eating to improve knowledge of national health trends, as reported by the Associated Press.
This “food map” can sort one product into its thousands of brands and variations, providing data on the exact ingredients and nutrients people consume. The database will also provide insight into how rapidly the market can change.
Until now, information on consumer purchases and how many calories people consume was only available through government data, which often lags behind with the rapidly changing food marketplace.
One product researchers investigated includes 2 % chocolate milk, which the government classifies as one food item. UNC researchers found thousands of 2% chocolate milk brands and averaged them out, revealing that chocolate milk has about 11 calories per cup more than the government thought.
Researchers are gathering massive amounts of nutritional information to create a better picture of what Americans are eating. Using this formula with various other items in the grocery store to uncover information that may help target better nutritional guidelines, push companies to cut down on certain ingredients and even help with disease research. Scientists are gathering caloric data for every packaged food on the shelves and comparing that to food sales in order to see how they work into Americans’ diets. Professor Meghan Slining says the research will show how quickly manufacturers change ingredients in each product and how that changes nutrition.
The project is part of first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to reduce the obesity rate. Sixteen major food companies have pledged to reduce the number of calories they put on the market. Once consumers become more aware of the calories they’re consuming we’ll probably see a lot more food companies follow suit.
Many people are realizing that a more natural lifestyle and diet is a better choice for their health and the health of their families. The quality and purity of the food we eat is the key factor to maintaining a healthy body. Eating food grown naturally makes all the difference. Here are some diet descriptions to help you choose a diet that’s a fit for you.
Organic products are grown using a system of farming that maintains and replenishes the soil fertility without synthetic, toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
Only products using exclusively organic methods and ingredients can state 100% organic on its label. The label mus also state “certified by” and the certification agency. It can also display the USDA Organic seal.
USDA Certified Organic
This means that 95 percent of more of the ingredients by weight (excluding salt and water) have been organically produced and processed. These foods are also eligible to display the USDA Organic seal.
Made With Organic Ingredients
Products with at least 70 percent organic ingredients may be labeled in this way and list up to three organic ingredients on the front panel.
Products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients are only permitted to list organic items on the ingredient information panel.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires all manufacturers of organic products to comply with the new organic standards. These standards ban the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and genetically engineered organisms and irradiation in any product labeled “organic”.
When buying certified organic, it’s useful to know the difference and what the labels really mean.
Organic Trade Association www.ota.com
These foods are minimally processed and contain no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives.
Vegetarian foods are derived from plant sources such as fruits, vegetables and legumes. Some animal protein such as eggs or other dairy products are allowed.
A vegan diet is derived solely from plant origin. It excludes animal foods such as meat, eggs, dairy products and honey.
The kosher certification process can be just as thorough as organic. The purpose of Kosher food is to prohibit the contamination of one food type by another focusing on cleanliness and safety. Reasons for food not being kosher include the presence of ingredients derived from nonkosher animals or from kosher animals that were not slaughtered in the ritually proper manner, a mixture of meat and milk, wine, or grape juice (or their derivatives) produced without supervision, the use of produce from Israel that has not been tithed, or the use of non-kosher cooking utensils and machinery.
Halal foods are foods that Muslims are allowed to eat under Islamic dietary guidelines. The criteria specify both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared. The foods addressed are mostly types of meat/animal tissue. Muslims must ensure that all foods, particularly processed foods, pharmaceuticals, and non-food items like cosmetics, are also halal. Frequently, these products contain animal by-products or other ingredients that are not permissible for Muslims to eat or use on their bodies.
A variety of substances are considered as harmful (haraam) for humans to consume and, therefore, forbidden as per various Quranic verses:
- Animals slaughtered in the name of anyone but God.
- Carrion (carcasses of dead animals)
- An animal that has been strangled, beaten (to death), killed by a fall, gored (to death), savaged by a beast of prey (unless finished off by a human).
Where Does Your Food Come From?
Find out at the Global Grocer courtesy of Food and Water Watch.
Eggs are getting a bit of a reprieve on the cholesterol front. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Tuesday says eggs are lower in cholesterol and higher in vitamin D than previously thought.
The federal agency released these findings (helpfully publicized by the egg industry) after testing a random sample of eggs across the country and examining their nutrient value. It found the average large egg contained 185 milligrams of cholesterol (14% less than prior measures) and 41 IU of vitamin D (64% more). The results were compared with testing done in 2002.
By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
February 8, 2011, 10:16 a.m.